Let’s be honest: losing weight and getting healthy are difficult! Sometimes it seems as though temptation and pitfalls are waiting around every corner.
We may not be able to make it any easier to resist a second (more like fifth) chocolate chip cookie, but at least if you choose some of these healthy food swaps and low calorie foods every day, you won’t have to be so hard on yourself for giving in to temptation every now and again.
These low calorie foods and healthy food swaps from Jenna Lithgow (an online fitness and nutrition expert) should make dropping a few kilos and making healthier choices a bit easier.
Low calorie foods for breakfast and snack time
- Swap cereal and granola for fibre-packed wholegrain toast or oats — wholegrain options will keep you fuller for longer.
- Swap fried eggs for boiled eggs — it may not seem like much, but you’ll save around 170kJ or 40 calories per teaspoon of oil that you skip.
- Swap dried fruit for fresh fruit — although dried and fresh fruit contain the same amount of kilojoules per serving, a serving of dried fruit is 1/4 cup and a serving of fresh fruit is 1 cup, so you can eat a larger volume of fresh fruit. Plus fresh fruit contains more vitamins.
- Swap milk chocolate for dark chocolate — after all, dark chocolate (in moderation) is good for you!
- Swap potato chips for baked wholegrain tortilla chips or even better, homemade popcorn — you’ll save kilojoules and you’ll up your fibre intake.
- Swap ice cream for banana ice cream — banana ice cream is just frozen bananas whizzed in the food processor until they reach a creamy consistency. It makes the perfect good-for-you treat.
- Swap creamy or mayo-based dips for bean-based dips or salsa — if you’re feeling extra good, dip raw veggies in your healthy dips.
Low calorie drink swaps
- Swap sugary cocktails for a glass of wine or a shot of spirits with soda water — both are good choices if you’re looking to cut calories.
- Swap a cappuccino or latte for an Americano with fat-free milk — no reason to give up your caffeine fix entirely!
- Swap juice for tea, coffee or water flavoured with pieces of fruit — juice is packed with calories, and it’s essentials to stay hydrated if you want to lose weight.
Healthy food swaps to make lunch easy
- Swap butter for avocado or roasted garlic — avo is high in ‘good’ fats and it has less calories; so if you replace 2 tbsp of butter with 2 tbsp of avo, you’ll save an amazing 600kJ or 150 calories
- Swap a sandwich for an open-faced sandwich with salad or a wrap — that way you’ll eat more veggies and fewer high-calorie carbs.
- Swap cheddar for Parmesan shavings — because it packs a flavor punch, you only need a small amount of Parmesan.
- Swap lettuce for spinach — although both are healthy food choices, spinach is better for you in terms of its vitamin and mineral content.
- Swap mayonnaise for fat free cottage cheese with some fat free yoghurt stirred in — mayo is full of saturated fat and is laden with calories, so do what you can to swap it for a low calorie alternative.
- Swap creamy salad dressing for balsamic vinegar — salads can contain almost as many calories as a burger if you pack them with high calorie additions and dressing. Make sure your salad stays healthy by using low calorie (and delicious) balsamic vinegar.
- Replace mayonnaise with mustard — a tablespoon of full-fat mayo packs around 375kJ or 90 calories, compared to around 40kJ or 10 calories in a tablespoon of mustard.
Low calorie foods to help with dinner
- Swap sushi for sashimi — the rice in your California roll doubles the amount of calories you’re eating when compared to sashimi. It goes without saying you should avoid high calorie additions like mayo, cream cheese or tempura anything.
- Swap rib-eye steak for ostrich steak — gram for gram, a rib-eye steak has twice as many calories as an ostrich steak and 10 times as much saturated fat, making this an easy food swap to understand!
- Swap spaghetti for vegetti — get your five-a-day by using a spiralizer or julienne peeler to turn carrots and baby marrows into vegetable spaghetti (or vegetti).
- Swap creamy sauces for tomato-based sauces — just half a cup of creamy Alfredo sauce can contain a whopping 2050kJ or almost 500 calories! That’s why we’ll be sticking to tomato-based sauces and only getting around a fifth of the calories.
- Replace oil with Spray and Cook — because of the way the oil is dispensed, you’ll end up using less oil and consuming fewer calories.
- Swap puff pastry for phyllo pastry — yes, even though you’re trying to lose weight, you can still have pastry! Just make sure it’s phyllo pastry, with only a sixth of the fat in puff pastry.
- Swap sausages for lean bacon — lean bacon is a great choice if you’re cutting kilojoules. You’ll get more protein, less fat and all the deliciousness of bacon if you make this food swap.
- Swap feta for ricotta — ricotta is a completely underrated healthy food choice, and if you swap 50g of feta for ricotta, you’ll save around 200kJ or 50 calories
- Swap starters for soup or a salad — this is a no-brainer; if you’re going out to eat, either skip the starters or choose a veggie-packed soup or salad.
Healthy food swaps for side dishes
- Swap French fries for baked butternut chips — butternut has a lower glycemic index than potatoes and almost half the calories, not to mention the oil that goes into deep-frying fries!
- Swap mashed potatoes for cauliflower mash — and for a guilt-free way to get your cauli-mash creamy? Add some fat-free cottage cheese.
- Swap creamed spinach and creamy gratins for steamed vegetables tossed in lemon juice, garlic and a touch of olive oil — it goes without saying that you’ll save calories, and steamed veg done this way are pretty delicious.
- Swap refined grains for whole grains — they’re packed with fibre to keep you full for longer, so wherever you can opt for wholegrain carbs.